Mesa State students engineer trebuchet feat

Hurling projectiles at a wooden castle may sound like a fun way for Mesa State College students to spend an afternoon, but in the case of Saturday’s third annual trebuchet challenge, it also was educational.

The mechanical engineering students, all part of a first-year engineering project class, had two and a half weeks to work in teams of three or more to make a catapult-like contraption called a trebuchet. With pop bottles on one end of a length of wood or pipe and a sling carrying a Hacky Sack on the other end, the slings would rise when the bottles were allowed to drop toward the ground, launching each Hacky Sack 50 feet toward a waist-high wooden castle on a mid-campus lawn.

Nails, rope and two-by-fours were the main materials used in Tyler Dicamillo’s team’s trebuchet.

“Duct tape was a key factor, too,” he said.

It took four days of work, two hours at a time, to make the trebuchet, according to Dicamillo’s teammate, Jesse Talley.

“I think any time you build something, you learn something,” Talley said.

That’s the hope of professor Gigi Richard, who teaches a section of the project class. The 10 teams that competed in Saturday’s challenge learned about design, building prototypes, testing ideas and managing a budget for materials during the trebuchet-making process, she said.

“A large part of the project is teaching them how to work as a team,” Richard said.


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